April 27, 2011

New Orleans: Shopping, Books, and Miscellaneous

This post continues our visit to New Orleans. Here are the posts related to our trip:

1) Wonderful Food and Restaurants
2) The French Quarter and Street Bands
3) The Garden District

4) Shopping, Books, and Miscellaneous
5) People and Animals

While in New Orleans, Mark and I visited three bookstores. If you've followed my earlier posts, I'm sure you are getting the sense that I really loved New Orleans. It surprised me in so many ways; and of course for me a perfect vacation always includes books. When I visit a new-to-me place, I must find the perfect books to enrich the traveling experience.

Crescent City Books (where I practically tripped and fell into the glass-windowed door): We didn't buy anything in this shop, but it's a nice store located in the French Quarter, not far from the Marriott where we were staying (see sign at left).

Beckham's Bookshop: Located at 228 Decatur Street, don't be put off by the unassuming storefront (see photo above). With not only a wonderful collection of new and used books, the proprietors entered into a discussion with us on Trotsky (when they learned Mark had written The Prophet of Sorrow.) In this wonderful shop, I purchased Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City by Jed Horne. Here's Beckham's Facebook page so you can like them too.

Garden District Bookshop is a well-organized shop located in The Rink in the Garden District on Prytania Street. I purchased New Orleans: A City Named Desire, by Todd and April Fell (I wanted a book with text and cool photos, like the "Eyewitness Books" series, and this filled the bill. Also in my shopping bag: Gumbo Tales: Finding My Place at the New Orleans Table by Sara Roahen and The House on First Street: My New Orleans Story by Julia Reed.

I've nearly finished The House on First Street and was so happy to find that I'd taken a photo of what I believe may be Ms. Reed's home. I had noticed the beautiful flourishes at the top of the columns, Corinthian, Mark told me and I remembered the lesson on architecture from my Art History class. (I knew the house next to it had Doric columns, but couldn't remember the word "Corinthian," isn't that often the case in marriage, what one can't name, the other can?) Anyway, here's my photo:

New Orleans Marriott Gift Shop: I bought two books here: My New Orleans: Ballads to the Big Easy by Her Sons, Daughters, and Lovers edited by Rosemary James and a wonderful book in a "half-price basket," Mardis Gras Treasures: Invitations of the Golden Age by Henri Schindler.

New Orleans is a great place to shop for clothes, accessories, gifts, art and antiques. Here are places we loved:
Cajun Clothing Co. 600 Decatur St.—The day I met my husband he was wearing a purple and yellow long-sleeved shirt from Cajun Clothing Co. by Perils, so when we went into the store and saw a big table stacked with these same neatly folded shirts, I knew we were in the right place. Mark picked up a few more shirts and received a compliment on the shirt (I think by a guy in an elevator) the next day when he wore it. I bought a T-shirt that is that wonderful cotton that is just perfect, as well as a man's Hawaiian shirt that I couldn't pass up. Best of all, I bought a pair of Douglas Paquette flip-flops, which SAVED my aching feet the rest of the day.

There are many antique shops on Royal Street. We also bought pralines (my first and now I'm hooked...this is like the grown-up version of my fascination with maple-leaf candy sold at Shoney's).

At The Little Toy Shop, 900 Decatur St., I purchased 8 toy horses. Why? Because I am illustrating a children's book and the horses are stumping me... how do their legs go? Where are their muscles? These little equines inspire me.

We also found a lovely shop near the Louisiana State Museum that specialized in tabasco (I believe it was the Tabasco Country Store), and while Mark picked up some T-shirts, I chose a beautiful runner for our dining room table that would match my favorite botanical place mats that he'd given me a while ago.

This morning, back home in Ohio, I picked some lovely lilacs and their aroma is filling the house. Bryce has just been picked up by a transportation helper to return home after a fun time together and a trip to the audiologist. Good news: the hearing aid we thought was broken is not, and with a new ear mold his left ear (always "left" out of everything) should soon be hearing conversation again.

Mark's previous two visits to New Orleans and his great memory brought a smile to my face when he mentioned a yarn store he recalled passing on his visit in 2007 (see what I mean about a great memory; he didn't even go in the store). So, yes, The Quarter Stitch, was right where he remembered it off Jackson Square and I purchased 2 lovely skeins of lavender yarn to make, you guessed it, a scarf!

The yarn was lovingly wrapped in coordinating tissue paper, then placed in a plastic bag with handmade business cards, then the bag affixed with ribbon, then the ribbon curled with scissors. High wow factor!

Stay tuned for later in the year when I actually complete the project! And, let me just say the colors of this yarn are so beautiful... this store will definitely be a regular stop on my future New Orleans visits.

New Orleans was a wonderful place to shop with a variety of items in a variety of price ranges. Many of the stores are unique, others are, for lack of a better phrase, the best. In other words, the toy store was a wonderful, traditional toy store very much like the one Mark and I visited in Sarasota, Florida in December. The products stocked were very similar. The yarn store was stocked with the best yarn a knitter/crocheter can hope to find. The bookstores are great too. The quality of each store to have the best in its category was so high, and I can't imagine anyone who loves to shop being disappointed at the selection of stores and products in New Orleans.


There were several photos that don't fit into the categories I choose to blog about. So, I'm putting them here; though the one at left would fit under shopping, I suppose. It's of a storefront window and I was drawn in to so many of the beautiful shop windows on our trip.

Above, is a bathroom tile. Guess where it is from? Emeril's restaurant! Below is a photo of the dormer and chimney of Jean Lefitte's place.

Below, you can see three photos I took from the plane. The first is using the "fisheye" option in my new travel camera, a Cannon.

Here is a photo of the Mississippi River, from our hotel room.

The photo below shows the canopy of branches and leaves, the natural shade covering within the courtyard of The Court of Two Sisters. The restaurant has many umbrellas in the courtyard, but at the entry, these beautiful plants provide shade.

Below, you can see Ann Rice's house in the Garden District. I should have put it in the previous post, but wanted it in this, the book section.

These red chandeliers greeted me each morning in the lobby of the New Orleans Marriott on Canal St.

Lastly, here is a hopeful sign, I think. A new store for me to visit on our next trip, perhaps?


February Grace said...

More amazing pictures on our personally guided tour- thank you, Janice! I LOVED the one of the store window with the chandelier- it actually made my heart race! So pretty.

Fantastic news about Bryce's hearing aid too! It's wonderful to know he'll soon be able to hear with both ears again. Best news of the day.


Janice Phelps Williams said...

Thank you, Bru. The expression on his face when the audiologist put the hearing aid in that ear (an ear that has been scarred by operations...both of his ears hear at 95 db, and 90 is considered "deaf") well, the expression was priceless and better than any photograph I could ever take, that's for sure!

Dina said...

Lost the comment I had all written. Grrr. Is that Malabrigo yarn? I gifted a skein that same color to Aunt Gail. Whenever I travel I head straight for the indie bookstores and indie yarn stores.

Ann Rice's house seems suitably Gothic in feel, no? I'm almost afraid to read the rest of your posts. Yes, I headed straight to the one titled "books and shopping". Haven't read the rest yet but expect to thoroughly enjoy them and begin yearning for a trip to N'awlins myself. Despite the heat and humidity which will surely make me beyond miserable!

Seeing N.O. through your eyes is such a treat, thank you for sharing.

Janice Phelps Williams said...

Dina, I don't know the kind of yarn, there was no tag or anything. They had oodles of various colors of this type of yarn. It was wonderful!

Lois said...

I am like you when I travel it always includes books and bookstores. Before going on a trip I try to find books that took place there. This time I read "A Streetcar Named Desire" and "The Awakening". The books I bought in New Orleans were "Memories of the Old Plantation Home" by Laura at the Laura Plantation and "Soldiers' Pay" by William Faulkner.

On the other side of the St. Louis Cathedral, we walked down Pirates Alley to Faulkner House Books, where he worked on his first novels, Mosquitoes and Soldiers' Pay. This is a great stop for Faulkner lovers and collectors of literature. While here, he contributed to the Times-Picayune and to a literary magazine called the Double Dealer. I have read three of his books, Light in August, The Sound and the Fury, and As I Lay Dying. So of course I had to get one of his books he worked on here. I got Soldiers’ Pay and will be reading soon.

To the left of the bookstore is a small alley that takes you to St. Peter Street, which is behind and parallel to Pirate's Alley and there if you have a sudden urge to scream "Stella!!!" at that second-story wrought-iron balcony at 632 St. Peter? No wonder. That's because this is where Tennessee Williams wrote A Streetcar Named Desire, one of the greatest pieces of American theater. He said he could hear "that rattle trap streetcar named Desire running along Royal and the one named Cemeteries running along Canal and it seemed the perfect metaphor for the human condition." I had just read the play a month before coming to New Orleans and I didn’t want to scream “Stella”. I wanted to scream, “Stanley, you jerk”.

And you have to promenade down Kate Chopin’s Esplanade Avenue after reading "The Awakening" and think what it would be like living here where the novel took place.

I also like to buy a Christmas ornament where we travel to and actually I found two, one in the French Market and one at Santa’s Quarters on Decatur. Both are purple, green, and gold (of course) of Jesters. I am fascinated with Jesters as well as the Mardi Gras Masquerade masks. And then I like to get photo albums with the city or place on the cover of where we are to put our pictures in from our trip. A couple doors down at Jesters I found photo albums with New Orleans on the cover.

Thank you for sharing your pictures and blog. I have so enjoyed!

Lois said...

Another book I read before going to New Orleans - "New Orleans: What Can’t Be Lost" – 88, count ’em, 88 – short pieces by local writers famous and not-so on the treasures no storm could take away.

Janice Phelps Williams said...

Lois, thank you so much for your additional comments. I will take all these ideas into account on our next trip to NOLA, which I hope will not be too far in the future. I have three books to read by New Orleans writers, but your "What Can't Be Lost" sounds like a must have as well.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Girlie, you are living the colorful, inspired, artistic life! Woohoo!

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